Since publishing my first book, Shoot the Wounded, I have tried to raise awareness to get the anti-bullying message out there to anyone and everyone. I was bullied in high school. I know what it’s like to feel fear while walking down a hallway at school. Each one of my children has had encounters with bullies in school. Why, even my husband has had to deal with bullies in the business world! If you think bullying is limited to children on playgrounds, think again.
I saw a young grocery clerk dissolve into tears after a rather unpleasant encounter with a less-than-satisfied customer, who verbally harangued the poor girl in a public tongue-lashing that had us all cringing in line. When I got to the front of the line, the poor girl’s hands were trembling so badly she dropped my change on the counter and nearly burst into fresh tears for fear I would be the next to reprimand her. Instead, I reached out my hand, touched her lightly on the arm and smiled at her. “No worries.” I said. The look of relief on that young girl’s face was heart wrenching.
I am in the middle of reading a particularly compelling, but shocking account of a young girl’s years as an abducted, tortured innocent in Uganda. Kidnapped into Joseph Kony’s army of child soldiers in the book “girl soldier” at the age of fifteen, she is one of countless thousands of children who do Kony’s bidding. It is either kill or be killed. (For those of you who have never heard of the atrocities this individual has committed on the innocents of that nation, I would ask that you listen to the YouTube video that was made about Kony.) As a westerner reading this story from the safety and comfort of my Canadian home, it shocks me that one man could so effectively “bully” a nation to submission. Yet it is equally true that bullying tactics have worked for historical tyrants of the past like Hitler, Idi Amin, Stalin and Hussein to subjugate and slaughter thousands of innocent men, women and children. We only need to watch news headlines to see that nations continue to fall under tyrannical dictatorships even today!
Whenever I read books of this nature, I can’t help feeling totally helpless. After all, what can a grandmother living in small town, Cochrane, Alberta, Canada do about the atrocities I read about in Africa? Well, truth be told, very little. Certainly I can write about it, bring awareness to it, and support with financial aid those agencies that are helping to assist the rescued and the refugees, but realistically my little rocking chair is far removed from the distant battlefields there.
So what do I do?
I start with one.
One prayer. “Matthew 7:7 says that we should ask, seek, and knock. James 5:16 “The prayer of a righteous man is effective and powerful.” 1 John 5:15 says that we should pray for those that are committing sin. Matthew 21:22 “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” John 15:7 “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” If we do nothing else, we can pray.
Then, practically take action close to home. Bullies are living in small towns and large cities across Canada, from British Columbia to Newfoundland. Bullying is an epidemic in our nation and children are threatening and being threatened daily. Take a stand and speak out against bullying. Write about it, tweet about it, Facebook, blog, get the word out that bullying is not going to be tolerated in the town in which you live. Write members of Parliament, sign petitions, speak to teachers and administrators, encourage your children and grandchildren to not be silent but TELL on their bullies. It takes courage to stand up to a bully but it has to start somewhere. Be the first ONE to say, “No, not on my watch! I’m taking a stand against bullying!”
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6